I had the most surreal experience yesterday. We had a night where there were no kids in the house!! (They were off at holiday camps and sleep-overs). After all these years (11), it felt completely bizarre and I have to admit, rather nice. I sat for 24 hours in blissful quiet. The sun was shining. I ate breakfast alone. The house was tidy. I felt like I was living in a hotel!
There were no requests for this or that, no complaining of feeling 'bored', I didn't find myself cajoling or nagging my 6, 8 and 11 year old kids to do homework or chores, no shouting (we do a lot of that in this family). Having let freedom go to my head, I subsequently ruined it by having a blazing row with my husband over who was going to make the supper. He was then furious and green with envy that he had to set his alarm to get up early for work while I had the whole house to myself for another few golden hours.
There's a very compelling advertising campaign at the moment for a well known private boarding school in Kenya. There are banks of posters attached to lighting poles all over Nairobi that have straplines such as,
"why sit in traffic? Let your child do something more interesting."
Laid out underneath is a photo of a uniformed child reading a book, or practising a musical instrument, or playing sport - ...at boarding school of course.
Traditionally the school in question has been full of the children of farming families or people living in remote areas without access to good schooling but this has recently changed. Since the traffic is indeed so bad and getting worse in Nairobi, the campaign is actually working. Quite a few Nairobi parents that I know, in spite of having a choice of at least half a dozen fantastic private schools in town, have recently decided to move their kids there, shifting from day school to the boarding system. When I ask why, they invariably say,
"Because poor precious soandso sits in traffic for an hour and a half each day at least going to and from school! So we thought it would be for the best for our child."
Even after hellish revision with children recently and endless arduous school runs, plays and performances etc. it's generally on the tip of my tongue to say,
"But how does a boarding school replace daily hands-on parenting, traffic notwithstanding?!?!?"
(I feel in a position to say this since I boarded in England from the age of seven to seventeen.)
However, after my blissfully quiet 24 hours - I can quite see how boarding school might be a tempting option. Apart from the fact that I'd almost inevitably end up rowing with my husband...Grr!